Images above: Coach Rafa teaching Padel tennis at the Rocks Lane courts
There’s an up and coming sport sweeping Europe and it’s available to play right now in Chiswick at Rocks Lane sports club.
Padel Tennis is a hybrid of beach tennis and squash, made popular in Spain after being invented by Enrique Corcuera in 1969. According to the Managing Director of Rocks Lane, Chris Warren, the game’s popularity has recently skyrocketed. Around 250,000 more people per year are seeking out the game.
The court is the size of a single tennis court, 10 x 20 metres, with a tennis net in the middle of the court. The difference is that the whole area is in an enclosed cage with glass walls at the back of the court, which players hit the ball off, like squash.
The rallies last longer than they do in traditional tennis.
“Like 90% of the time you’re picking the balls up” Chris says, “whereas [in Padel Tennis] this is an enclosed area, you can play the balls off the fences back into play, so the rally can go on for ten, 20 or more shorts which is a lot longer than the average tennis rally.”
In an interview with TalkSport, Chris explained how the game differed from other tennis variations, and how this obscure sport is edging into the limelight in the UK’s sports circles through its popularity amongst celebrity footballers.
Padel, Paddle or Pickle?
There are a few different kinds of tennis games which are pretty similar and the differences are often jumbled up.
Padel tennis should not be confused with the other similarly spelt ‘Paddle Tennis’. This game usually associated with American-style game played in country clubs. The sport is is played on a platform with wooden bats called ‘paddles.’
‘Pickleball’, another iteration of tennis, combines badminton, table tennis and regular tennis. Played on a badminton court between four people. The game is played with with a very light ball unlike padel ball which is played with a regular tennis ball.
Pickleball is also one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. The spread of the sport is attributed to its popularity within community centers, physical education classes, public parks, private health clubs.
Image above: Lionel Messi, a padel tennis player
Padel ‘crosses all boundaries’
Spain is likely the most popular location for padel tennis at the moment, with other 20,000 courts already established in the country. Even the famous Barcelona player Lionel Messi had a private court built in his home.
“Footballers have been getting massively into it”, says Chris, “Jurgen Klopp said its his favourite sport to play and there’s even a court which has been put in the training camp at Man City.”
Asked why it resonates with footballers so much, Chris replied:
“If you’re a footballer you’ve obviously got great footwork already, you can move easily you can anticipate where the ball is going and you’ve got good hand-eye coordination. Padel is easy to pick up quickly because you’ve got a small racket whereas with tennis it’s a bigger racket with strings and it’s more difficult to control the ball.
“Also when you go on holiday, you’ve got all different ages playing a padel type game with the beach tennis. The game crosses all boundaries when it comes to age, ability and it’s so easy to pick up and enjoy.”
Image above: Rocks Lane sports club, nearest tube station Turnham Green
Growing in popularity in the UK
Padel has been adopted by the London Tennis Association and now sits alongside traditional lawn tennis and have been promoting it “big time”. But at the moment the UK only has around 80 courts compared to the 20,000 in Spain. In Sweden there over 700 courts which started in the last few years.
Chris says there be a big increase in courts in the coming years. At the moment private sector dominates the ownership of most UK courts, meaning that the sport can be quite inaccessible to some people.
At the moment there are six courts in Chiswick which are available at Rocks Lane for now, but Chris hopes to make the sport more accessible to people by working to have public courts opened.
“It can become massive because a lot of sports take up a lot of time. Padel you can just have a friend, four people or one other person and cuts across gender boundaries etc anyone can play it.”
If you want more information about padel tennis, or would like to book a court to play on, you can contact Chiswick Rocks Lane at:
Mon – Fri 9.00am – 10.00pm
Sat 9.00am – 6.00pm
Sun 9.00am – 7.00pm
Bank Holidays 9.00am – 6.00pm
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